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Contractor Rock Bands Jam with Military

Posted by Pratap Chatterjee on September 27th, 2007

You've heard of golf junkets for politicians and pay-offs for disc jockeys who help get artists into the Top 40. But government bureaucrats invited to play Grateful Dead-style music and rock music covers from the Clash with military contractors looking for work? Welcome to GitRockin, a fund-raiser to be held in Washington DC on October 18th.

Ken Sandler of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a division of U.S. Central Command, will play the drums with Jim Ittenbach, a Verizon engineer under contract with DISA. The pair belong to a band called Troubled Spirit. They play songs like Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil and REM's End Of The World As We Know It.

For the October 18th event, Troubled Spirit has renamed itself the DISA-Peering Act, after the agency that they both work at. Our question is will they play one of their classic covers: the Rolling Stones Can't Always Get What You Want or will it be the Beatles Come Together?

Then there is an all contractor band composed of a vocalist from Perot Systems and a guitarist from AT&T. Songs on their previous play lists include The Clash's I Fought the Law and English Beat's Save it for Later.

CorpWatch asked a former senior government official how ethical this was. (Sorry, we can't tell you who, but he goes way to the top) His response: "There is an Office of Government Ethics regulations at 5 CFR 2635 that talks about "impartiality" in performing a Federal employee's duties, but that was about the closest thing I could find.  I suppose that one could argue that a Federal employee participating in this sort of thing loses his/her "impartiality", but that's about it."

The event, which is being held at the State Theater in Falls Church, Virginia, is a benefit for the United Service Organizations (USO) that provides charity to the United States Armed Forces personnel and their families. Iraqis waiting for handouts may just have to suffer in silence while Tacocat belts out REM's Fables of the Reconstruction.